HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii State Department of Education has a new deputy superintendent of strategy and another for operations. This comes after the Board of Education approved the two appointments Thursday during a BOE meeting.

DOE Superintendent Keith Hayashi said the two new leaders will help strengthen the department’s ability to get priorities done and mitigate negative impacts of the pandemic.

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According to the DOE, Tammi Oyadomari-Chun has been named deputy superintendent of strategy and Curt Otaguro has been named deputy superintendent of operations.

The DOE said, the starting salaries for each deputy superintendent is $190,000 which the department will temporarily pay for using federal funds.

However, the Hawaii State Teachers Association brings up concerns, adding this is money being funneled away from classrooms and students. The vice-chair of the House Education Committee is concerned about the lack of transparency of the hiring process.

“I am deeply concerned about the lack of transparency surrounding the recent deputy superintendent hiring’s. The BOE approved the new positions without asking a single question of the nominees, which undermines public confidence in the selection process. We must make sure that the people appointed to these positions are committed to replacing test-and-punish education policies with well-rounded learning opportunities for our children.”

Rep. Jeanne Kapela, House Education Committee Vice-Chair

Hayashi said he understands the concerns, but the amount of work the department must do warrants the positions and the DOE spends about 3.54% of its over $2 billion budget on administrative operations.

Others support the additional roles, citing the need for strong leadership in the central office.

“I think that investments going to pay big dividends, but this isn’t a blank check,” said David Miyashiro, Executive Director of HawaiiKidsCan. “I think at the end of the day, we need to see real results and real improvement in our system or else maybe we don’t need more of these positions.”

Next, the DOE will work to secure permanent funding from the state legislature for the positions. Hayashi said these positions will improve the department as a whole.

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“I will better be able to maintain a healthy symbiotic relationship with the board and lawmakers to improve public education and collaborating with leadership of the other state agencies to collectively address the needs of our students, families, and school communities in our state,” Hayashi said.